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Preparing for interviews OU students talk about preparing for interviews 1 min 26 sec

Paul: Firstly I'd want to find something out about my employer and if I could spot some of the issues that that they would regard as important to them.

Rachael: Do a bit of research. Always find out the business that the employer is within.

Ramesh: I usually do a background on the company where I'm attending the interview to see how the company has evolved during the last few years and in what direction are they aiming and how I can be an asset to that organisation.

Paul: I'd want them to feel that I'd actually made the effort to find out something about them.

Rachael: Try and put yourself in the position of the employer. What is the employer going to want to see and hear from you.

Ramesh: I'll see to it that whatever's mentioned in the job spec I'm fully aware of it, and what are the plus points from my side which I can put forth in the interview which will contribute or aid in getting the job.

Rachael: They're going to want to hear and see that you're a confident person, that you're not overly confident and cocky. But they're going to want to see that you can get your point across.

They're going to want to see that you know the industry, that you're going to want to be working in and that you have a technical competence that is at the level, or above, what they've stated in the job advert.

Preparation for an interview is absolutely essential. You need to

  • check in advance what the format of the interview will be
  • know what the job entails
  • decide how your skills and experience suit the role by checking the selection criteria or the job description
  • try to predict what you may be asked and draft suitable answers - try the STAR technique.
  • think about examples from your study, work or personal life to demonstrate key skills
  • read through your CV or application form and covering letter thoroughly
  • prepare some questions to ask the interviewer(s)

For an academic interview you should also:

  • familiarise yourself with the entry criteria and requirements for your further study
  • be prepared to talk in more detail about the content of your OU degree, including knowledge and skills you have acquired
  • for a vocational course, identify specific examples of experience you have gained through related employment
  • if possible, find out more about the people who will be interviewing you; identify their areas of interest, which may influence the questions they ask.

Do some research

You should research the organisation or sector. Begin with its brochure or website, try the professional body or trade association. You could also explore the Prospects job sector briefings.

... before the interview, prepare yourself mentally. The right mood helps you perform at your best.

Stephanie Ahrens, Credit Suisse

Ask the panel

Prepare one or two questions for the interviewers. Asking questions shows you have thought about the job and how it relates to you. You might want to ask about

  • promotion – what could I expect to be doing in two years time?
  • performance – how is this monitored or assessed?
  • qualifications – what further study could I do? (check the employer's literature first)
  • company culture – how would they describe it?
  • retention – how long do people tend to stay?
  • next steps – when will you hear about the result of the interview?

If you have a disability and are unsure whether to disclose this at an interview, have a look at this Disability Toolkits leaflet, which outlines the issues associated with disclosing a disability.

Interview preparation activity

Try the interview preparation activity for a detailed example of the sort of questions you could be asked.